What is Love?
Is love a feeling? On countless occasions, I have experienced the feeling of being in love. Have you? Did it last? Certainly when I met the object of my love the sensations of being in love were overwhelmingly pleasant. I walked on air. Life was going to be forever amazing. This lovefest made all the world and its challenges manageable. It made me strong, gave me courage, gave me joy. I thought this feeling would last forever.
I still love. But it is different now. The drugged euphoria has been channeled into the work of love. The WORK of love? Ick! Who wants to work in love? Well, what I’ve learned is that I do. If I want all of what love promises than I must put myself in the role of LOVE ER. What is this?
Let me begin by saying I understand Love is a mystery. I can only approach it trepidatiously and hope some element of wisdom find its way onto this page. My definition of LOVE is the WILL to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing another in their spiritual growth. By doing so, the giver evolves spiritually as well. Thus, it is circular. As you give, you receive.
Falling in love is effortless. If anything, falling in love is self-serving. Our lover will terminate our loneliness and if all goes well, solidify this through marriage. Fairy tales support this fantasy with the ending of “lived happily ever after” while feeding the idea of one perfect soul mate with whom we will find perfect fulfillment in all our needs forever. False!
Once we are in love, now what? This is where work comes in. Love is not a feeling. It is action, commitment, decision, discipline, and the will to extend oneself on behalf of another. The person who loves makes the decision to commit to loving behavior whether or not the loving feeling is present. One way in which this demonstrates is through ATTENTION.
Oftentimes, it is work to put the daily concerns in our own mind to rest while focusing on another. It requires effort. In this, attention nurtures. True listening demands we concentrate on the speaker. We must quell the uprising of responses that automatically leap to mind based on our own assumptions, world views, prejudices, frames of reference, and desires to view the world through our lovers eyes. This is challenging as it requires extending oneself.
Through this process of attention, the loved feels acceptance and may willingly share more and more of their inner world as their vulnerability lessens. As this happens, the loved and the lover appreciate each other more and more. The dance of love expands. The energy required to extend ourself through paying attention can only be done through love. Love then becomes present between giver and receiver. Again, as you give, you receive.
Do you listen? Really listen? It is easy in this world of portable devices and social media to distance ourself from our hearts true desire which is love. We do this by tuning out to the one at hand and tune in to our social media feeds. How fulfilling is this? How sustainable? We are hooked. Looking into the future, how will loving relationships survive? We are giving up joy in favor of momentary pleasure. This begs the question, is the trade off worth it?